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Twins' charitable efforts culminate with holiday push

MINNEAPOLIS -- With the holiday season in full swing, the Twins are ramping up their charity efforts.

The club's annual winter coat drive started on Nov. 1 and lasts through November. As part of the program, fans can drop off a new or gently used adult or child coat and receive 50 percent off a Twins premium jacket. The coats, which benefit Disabled American Veterans (DAV), can be dropped off at the Twins Majestic Clubhouse Store at Target Field and at Twins Pro Shop locations in Apple Valley, Minnetonka and Roseville.

First baseman Justin Morneau, who has long been active in the community, sponsors the program and was on hand to sign autographs for those who donated on Nov. 20.

The Twins also host their Holiday Week of Giving the week of Dec. 10 with five days of different charity events to benefit local organizations.

"Each day we take our employees, alumni and players go out into the community," said Bryan Donaldson, director of community relations for the Twins. "It could be serving dinner at a homeless shelter or visiting a nursing home. There are many different things we're working on right now. But every day that week we go out into the community."

It's all part of the organization's yearlong effort to help out in the local community, as the club has many charity events throughout the year.

Their biggest effort during the baseball season is Hope Week, which was held from June 10-18.

It kicked off with Morneau's annual Casino Night for Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, which raised more than $120,000.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire also got in on the action, as he visited the Minneapolis VA Hospital that week. Catcher Joe Mauer also hosted a pizza lunch for children at Gillette Children's Hospital.

Those were just a few of the events headlined by Twins players and staff, as they're a major part of the club's efforts to give back.

"It's a very large part of it and the nice thing is that the players drive most of it," Donaldson said. "It's not like we just tell them to show up. It's guys like Justin Morneau coming to us and saying he wants to do a fundraiser for arthritis or do a coat drive for veterans. Or Glen Perkins saying he wants to do a race to benefit cystic fibrosis. So it really is them driving a lot of it. So it's fantastic."

The Twins also donated items to more than 5,000 fundraising events and gave out more than 20,000 tickets through the TwinsCare program.

After the season, the Twins also announced they donated nearly 12,500 pounds of food to local charities during the 2012 season as part of their partnership with Delaware North Companies and Rock and Wrap It Up! Inc.

The Twins also helped with local baseball and softball efforts, including the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, through the help of the Twins Community Fund, which is a nonprofit organization that works to enrich local and regional communities by providing resources for the healthy development of children and families through an association with baseball, softball and the Twins.

So although this time of year is often associated with giving back, the Twins make it their goal to give back no matter the season.

"I think it means a great deal for us," Donaldson said. "It's a part of our history and our tradition since we moved to Minnesota. Giving back to the community is paramount to us. It's not just what we do on the field that's important to us. We can use our image and our team to better people's lives."

Minnesota Twins, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Glen Perkins